Is CSR really for everyone… 1,127 reasons why it’s not!

Bangladesh

Once again – a terrible disaster affecting the poor and vulnerable!
Once again – exploitation seems to be part of some company’s business-plan
Once again – arguments, that CEO’s responsibility is to maximize value for shareholders
Once again – greed is showing its ugly face
Once again – it’s time to push the head deep down into the sand!

When is it ever enough?

…the “general” reaction – having heard the terrible news – we head home feeling a bit “miserable”, so on the way we make a quick stop at the local Mall and buy a new bright-colored T-shirt at $19.95 to comfort ourselves…

Empathy – a lost capacity…

Is the strive for material belongings and status alienating us so much from our fellow human beings that if we can gain a corporate or personal “advantage” we just don’t care!
Even worse – we are doing it systematically – exploitation has become a prerequisite for our exaggerated consumerism – and we just don’t care…

Is this really what we wanted for human evolution – Misanthropy!

I will never accept this! Greed and Indifference cannot be the “end-station” of civilization.
At some point in time we – the people – where able to agree on statements like these:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
(US, Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)

“Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”
(National motto, France)

“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Now it is time again –  to stand up, to be the change we want to see, and to say NO to Indifference and Hypocrizy!

Corporate Social Responsibility

There seems to be a strange belief in many Corporations, especially global one´s, that since they operate in many countries, they can “cherry-pick” what rules and legislation they should obey – exploit labor where labor-laws are weak and wages are low, pay taxes where rates are beneficial, dump waste where regulations are advantageous, and so on…

And all the time you hear corporate executives repeating their “Mantra”:

“…responsibility is to maximise the value that they deliver for their shareholders…”

Why don’t we ask “the shareholders” how many lives they find is a “decent toll” to pay to maximize their value?

And while we are at it, we should perhaps ask ourselves the same question – where are our pension funds and savings placed – should our retirement be paid with the life’s of others…
Is our never ending “shopping-spree” more important than the possibility for other people to earn a decent living and to have a life….

Often well educated, corporate executives choose to look the other way whenever there is an opportunity to earn some extra profits? Aren’t Human Rights valid, once you enter a “board-room”?
Are the Human Rights – ratified by almost every country in the world and even largely adhered to when countries are in a state of war – not valid for corporations?

Is it maybe, that corporation and shareholders have problems to interpret what is agreed on… Is the declaration of Human Rights really that hard to understand…

UN, Human Rights

OHCHRIn 10 Dec, 1948 the UN established the “Universal declaration of Human Rights” – 30 articles proclaiming OUR rights, rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled!
(Full text HERE!)

Essentially all of the world’s countries have ratified it since then, but in any event its core provisions are binding international law regardless of the existence of treaty ratification or state of war, including the prohibitions against slavery, genocide, torture, and cruel inhuman treatment of war prisoners.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is translated into more than 300 languages and dialects: from Abkhaz to Zulu and is thus the document most translated – indeed, the most “universal” – in the world.

Article 1:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood

Article 2:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Some small steps forward…

Last week, twelve Corporations; H&M, C&A, Primark, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Benetton, Mango, Carrefour, Loblaw, El Corté Ingles Inditex, PVH and Tchibo have signed a landmark Bangladesh factory safety plan. The five-year plan, according to USA Today, “requires independent inspections with public reports and signers to pay for mandatory safety upgrades. It also requires companies to cut off business with any factory that refuses to make necessary upgrades, and it gives workers and their unions a role in the process.”

Out of the companies mentioned above, only one is American, and it doesn’t include even one major American retailer or fast fashion company. Gap, Walmart, Sears, J.C. Penney and Target have refused to sign and Disney have made provisions to leave Bangladesh altogether. Some of these company’s instead state that they will conduct their own inspections – a setup that “truly” has proven “very effective” before….and also very”public” and “transparent”…!?!
(Is the “declaration of independence” only valid within the US borders…)

The corporations mentioned are, even if they are huge and global, only a fraction of all corporations operating in Bangladesh and other countries in similar situations. It is therefore perhaps a little bit too simplistic to make them responsible for “everything” – but, on the other hand, that is not an excuse for behaving badly!

It is Enough Now – truth is that it has been Enough for quite some time!

At least 1,127 fellow human beings died at Rana Plaza while trying to fulfill our demand for bargain prizes – it is outrageous, no matter how much wealth it brought to “shareholders”.

“Make Difference – Not Indifference!”